Baseball Knocks Off LSU Once Again, 7-3

    June 5, 1998

    OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Jason Lane was just happy to have another shot at LSU.

    Lane homered twice then took the mound in the eighth inning to stop the Tigers' two-out rally, leading Southern Cal to a 7-3 victory Friday, one that eliminated the two-time defending champs from the College World Series.

    "I've just been trying to pick the team up as best I could, and it just hadn't been working out for me," Lane said. "It felt good to finally do some big things for the team."

    In an all-Pac 10 championship game, the Trojans (48-17) will play Arizona State (41-22) on Saturday.

    LSU (48-19) was denied a shot at a third straight NCAA title and its fifth championship of the 1990s as USC right-hander Mike Penney (8-4) held the long ball-hitting Tigers scoreless for 7 2-3 innings.

    "Mike shut us down," LSU coach Skip Bertman said, shaking his head. "He was really tough. He pitched some of the best ball. I can't imagine him pitching like that all year."

    Penney was strong for six innings against an LSU team that had set a World Series record with 15 homers.

    "Nerves were a little bit of a factor," Penney said. "I'm normally a slow starter, and I get hit around a little bit. After a few innings, I looked back and said Hey, we survived it."'

    After getting Josh Dalton to fly out to third and striking out Trey McClure in the seventh, Penney ran into trouble.

    Eddy Furniss walked after hitting a foul ball out of the park down the right field line. Brad Cresse singled before Jeff Leaumont hit Penney's first pitch over the right field fence to pull the Tigers within 7-3.

    Penney gave up a single to Wes Davis and ran the count to 2-0 on Blair Barbier before Southern Cal coach Mike Gillespie went to the bullpen for Lane, who up to that point had been the designated hitter.

    Lane threw only two pitches to Barbier, who hit a pop foul to first baseman Robb Gorr. Lane then retired the side on two strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth to send USC to the NCAA title game for the 14th time.

    Lane was the pitcher in the opener when Cresse hit LSU's recording-setting eighth homer in the Tigers' 12-10 victory.

    "I had kind of a rough first game here against these guys," Lane said. "It was pretty tough to handle that. I just regrouped and hoped I'd get another shot back. It happened to work out."

    At the plate, Lane sent both of his homers to virtually the same spot - each landing amid the girders in the right field light tower.

    His first, a two-run shot in the fifth, broke a scoreless tie. His second, a first-pitch leadoff homer in the seventh, gave the Trojans a 5-0 lead and ended the day for LSU starter Doug Thompson (12-5).

    "Thompson's had my number this whole series," Lane said. "He was throwing curveballs early in the count. I was just trying to stay back and hit something the other way."

    The Trojans took control in the middle innings. After Lane's first homer, Greg Hanoian drove in another run with a fifth-inning single to left, making it 3-0.

    "That kind of broke up the pitching battle and allowed them to get some momentum on their side," Thompson said.

    In the sixth, Morgan Ensberg hit another homer into the right field light tower to put the Trojans ahead 4-0.

    USC 7, LSU 3

                ab r h bi              ab r h bi
    Rachels 2b   5 0 0 0   Higgins lf   5 0 0 0
    Hanoian cf   4 0 2 2   Dalton ss    5 0 1 0
    Perry pr-cf  0 0 0 0   McClure 2b   4 0 0 0
    Munson c     2 1 1 0   Furniss 1b   2 1 0 0
    Ensberg 3b   4 1 1 1   Cresse c     4 1 1 0
    Ticehurst rf 4 0 0 0   Leaumont dh  4 1 1 3
    Gorr 1b      4 1 2 1   Davis rf     4 0 3 0
    Lane dh-p    4 2 2 3   Barbier 3b   4 0 1 0
    Freitas lf   4 1 2 0   Harris cf    3 0 1 0
    Davidson ss  3 1 1 0                       
    Totals     34 7 11 7   Totals      35 3 8 3
    USC     000   031   210 - 7
    LSU     000   000   03x - 3
         E-Cresse. LOB-USC 3, LSU 8. 2B-Davis, Barbier.
    HR-Ensberg, Lane 2, Leaumont. SB-Munson, Davidson.
    CS-Perry, Freitas. S-Davidson.
                  IP   H  R ER BB SO
    Penney, W     7 2-3  8  3  3  2  5
    Lane          1 1-3  0  0  0  0  2
    Thompson      6      7  5  5  1  6
    Demouy        1 2-3  2  2  2  1  2
    Guillory      1 1-3  2  0  0  0  1
         HBP-by Penney (Harris). WP-Guillory.
         T-2:38. A-13,000.